Sunday, June 20, 2010

Adults like animation? Who'd-a thunk it?

Normally by this time I would have written a review of Toy Story 3, but I am waiting so I can see it with my favorite young artist and her fine folks. Rarely has my patience been so steely. ;)

In the meantime, I came across this post on EW's Popwatch blog, in which writer Josh Young marvels at the fact that a showing of Toy Story 3 drew - GASP! - mostly adults!?!??!?!

Really? You're just NOW finding out that adults can enjoy animated movies without the company of a child, EW? I've been aware of this fact for decades. About as long as your magazine has been around, in fact.

And I'm not talking only about myself, an admitted sucker for animation. I was noticing that adults were attending animated movies as far back as Beauty and the Beast. I saw that movies 6 or 7 times in theaters and noticed a number of adult couples there without any kids in tow. It was a date movie for them. And this was 19 years ago

Granted, the always high quality of Pixar's productions probably has  increased adult willingness to view animated movies without kids. But this is hardly a new phenomenon. And Pixar isn't even the only party responsible for this. As Young does point out, the works of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Ponyo, etc.) have had an impact as well.

There's also something to be said for the fact that many people who saw the original Toy Story as kids in 1995 are flocking to the third chapter as well - they grew up along with Andy. In fact, the voice of Andy in all three movies, actor John Morris, is now a 25-year-old graduate of UCLA's Theater Arts program. (I hereby apologize for making some readers feel old.)

But really, anyone who has paid attention to Pixar knows the studio doesn't make films for children - they make films for everyone. If they made films solely for children, they wouldn't be nearly as successful as they are.

It is true that a lot of people tend to ghettoize animation as being "just for kids." I often hear fathers complain they don't get to see anything in the theaters except for "kids movies." If they're talking about crap like Marmaduke, I sympathize. If they're talking about Pixar, I don't feel sorry - and neither, I suspect, do the fathers.

Brad Bird, the writer-director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, once said in an interview (by EW, as it happens):

I can't tell you how many times somebody will come to me and say, ''My kids really love your work.'' And then you go, ''But you like it too, right?'' And they go, ''Oh, I love it.'' But they don't ever lead with that. It's like the kids are their beard to get them into the theater. Or people will say, ''I'm happy about this film because I have a 5-year-old.'' And I'm like, Well, congratulations, but I didn't make this for the 5-year-old. I made it for me, and I'm not 5. I can't think of one other art form that has its audience so narrowly defined. If you work in animation, people tell you, ''Oh, it must be wonderful to entertain children.'' Yes it is. But that's 10 percent of the audience I'm going for.
Yes, EW, adults can enjoy animated movies without kids - and it's time people stop being surprised by that.

1 comment:

Scott Copeland said...

Obviously I concur, as my wife and I to celebrate a wedding anniversary went to Ratatouille a few years ago. I actually think the turning point was Aladdin. Beuaty and the Beast is a masterpiece in my opinion. But it was Robin William's rapid fire work as Genie that made a lot of people say "I don't need the kids to enjoy this". Also, my generation had seen enough anime to know animation isn't just for kids anymore. EW, as usual, was a bit behind on this one.